The Estabrook Dam could be coming down

Plan is coming from the county executive's office
Posted at 7:19 PM, Oct 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-04 20:47:00-04

MILWAUKEE -- Years of political battles over the Estabrook Dam could come to an end if a plan from Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele succeeds.

In his plan, the city of Milwaukee would rezone the Estabrook Dam and put a three-person committee (including Abele) in control of the dam.

Once that committee is established, they would sell the dam to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) for $1. Then, the MMSD would buy the dam with the condition that it's torn down.

"It costs a lot less to remove it than to repair it," Abele said.

He estimates repairs would cost $4.1 million and that removal would be $1.7 million.

County Board of Supervisor members dispute those numbers and disagree with this plan altogether.

"We've listened to those debates, we set policy based on those debates, and now there's been an end-run around us in order to get something done that's counter to what we've decided and based those decisions on community input," said Peggy West, who represents District 12.
Abele believes the County Board hasn't acted fast enough on the dam, saying Board Chairman Theo Lipscomb has prevented votes. But West said that's not true.

"We've made that vote several times over the last 12 years," she said.

The County Board authorized $1.6 million for repairs in 2013. They feel if the repairs had been executed by Abele's administration quickly, the dam wouldn't be in its current state of disrepair.

They board doesn't feel it's up to the city to decide the future of a county entity.

"This is a public asset and therefore the public should have input on what happens to it," West said.
But, Abele said the cost of the dam remaining up is a drain to taxpayers. He feels his plan gets the dam off the tax roll and onto already-budgeted state funds.
"If the county paid for this, it would be coming at the cost of services," he said.
West feels it's an overstep.
"This is a public asset and therefore the public should have input on what happens to it," she said.
The County Board of Supervisors tell TODAY'S TMJ4 while they have gone to court with the County Executive in the past, they are leaving all their options open for the time being.